One of my favourite places in the world is Yosemite National Park in California. Somehow it caught my imagination when I went there once with my dad and then again a second time when I visited while he was living and working in San José. I think it was the vastness of it all, the mythology of the Native Americans who had lived there, and the simply breathtaking natural beauty.
My aunt and I had booked the whole trip quite late, by which time the accommodation inside the Park itself was already full, so from Napa Valley we drove to Mariposa, just outside the Park to the west. When we arrived in the evening at our little hotel, we were greeted by a blackboard with our names and the message, “Keys in the door!” – and so they were. You have to love these little towns where crime seems not to be much of a concern. In fact the owner was still around and we gratefully accepted “some leftover wine”, which turned out to be a whole unopened bottle of Chardonnay, along with homemade cookies. The personal touch! And in the evening, there was live music out on the terrace under the stars.
Our first destination was Glacier Point, a couple of hours of driving from Mariposa. The weather didn’t look promising so we headed up as soon as we could in the morning. Just as we had gone round and taken all our photos, the clouds closed in about us, blocking any view of the world below as the rain started pouring down. We were incredibly lucky to have timed the visit so well, and the only downside was that I had to spend a few dollars on a bright yellow poncho to cover my optimistic shorts-and-top outfit I had chosen for the day. As the rain continued, we weren’t really tempted by further exploration of the park so we had a quick lunch down in the village and then drove back out to our hotel.
From Death Valley we continued on, past Las Vegas and on to our grand finale: the Grand Canyon.
The practical bit:
River Rock Inn – This calls itself Mariposa’s oldest motel, although there is a new owner who has taken over this year. I can also recommend Charles Street Dinner House, where we had yummy dinner both nights.
Furnace Creek Ranch – This is the cheaper of the two hotels that make up Furnace Creek Resort, the other one being Furnace Creek Inn. As usual since we booked late we didn’t have a lot of choice but this was a fun place to stay, it felt very “wild west”.